I saw on the news today the story of Jennifer Livingston. For those of you who don’t know , she is a La Crosse, Wisconsin news anchor who was criticized by a viewer for being obese and decided to use her morning news show to directly address her attacker. I won’t give you the whole story, but I think her comments were really moving. As someone who was a bullied child at times in my life, I understand what that feels like. So to have someone come out on TV (an now national TV) and say “Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience – that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”
This should serve as an encouragement for all of us. All of us have encountered people that use their words as weapons against us. We could be having a good day, then all of the sudden we run into Mr Sandpaper whose entire mission in life is to tell us how everything we are doing is wrong and gets his own satisfaction by tearing other people down. Then someone stands up and says “attacks like this are not OK.” Sometimes, that someone has to be us. Sometimes we will be required to stand up for ourselves, and especially for others. It’s been said “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes”, and sometimes life will require just that.
Sometimes we all have to be reminded that we are valuable people. We are valuable to family, friends, co-workers and others. I’ve personally found that for every critic out there, there are lots of others who you are valuable to. And if you loose sight of those “shouts of many” because of the “cruel words of one”, you loose sight of your value.
So I say the following to my younger readers and friends (and maybe not so young):
1. Stand up for yourself. Being attacked is not OK.
2. Stand up for others….even if your voice shakes….or gets loud.
3. You are worth far more than someone’s negative opinion of you.
On the flip side, it should serve as an admonition to us all. In the common speech, “Don’t be that guy”. When we are hurt, wounded, or offended, it becomes easier to hurt, wound, and offend others. And it happens to the best of us. We all have , at one point or another, used our words as weapons. Even me.
I had to send the following emails to my co-workers. I’ve found that while “revenge is a dish best served cold”, crow is not good no matter how it’s prepared. But even the best of us have to “eat crow” and admit we are wrong from time to time. I’m passing this along to you, my readers, in hopes that you will learn from my mistakes, and not your own. 🙂
Sometimes we all get to a place in life when we find it easier to surrender to cynicism than to resist the urge. Sometimes we surrender for various reasons. Money issues may be wearing on us. Sickness (or extended sickness) in our families. Family issues may be wearing on us. And, as much as we like to think we can (or at least try) , we can not flip a switch to isolate parts of our lives from the other.
We allow ourselves to be grumpy, short with others, and sometimes hateful. We justify our thoughts to ourselves, then when it becomes actions we justify it to others. And we allow ourselves to continue down that slope. We allow others to feed into it, and even worse we feed into others. It’s easy to float downstream, and hey, everyone is doing it. We make judgments based on what we think we know, and it turns out we might not have had all the facts.
I’ve been in a couple of conversations in the last 2 days that have pointed this out. Jaded and cynical does not match Hawaiian shirts very well. A friend once asked me a question that I taped to my monitor (because I knew I’d forget it). When we were having a “gripe session” Todd said , “Well you should ask yourselves a question…’How can I make this better’ and then prepare to live by it.”
I said all that to say this… in the better or bitter battle that we all fight in our own souls, I have allowed myself to become a little more bitter. And that has affected some of you. And for that I am sorry.
“Don’t give up your ideals, don’t compromise, don’t turn to expediency — and don’t, for heaven’s sake, having seen the inner workings of the watch — don’t get cynical.”
So in summary, speak up and be heard. But don’t be a bully, or you might be the one who is subject of a TV documentary.